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Earmark backfire

Discussion in 'Casino Industry Discussion' started by jetset, Apr 3, 2007.

    Apr 3, 2007
  1. jetset

    jetset RIP Brian CAG

    Senior Partner, InfoPowa News Service

    Veto threat on stalled war funding bill

    The increasingly bitter argument over adding Iraq troop withdrawal timetables to urgent war funding bills presently at an impasse in the US Congress has some familiar echoes with the passage of the US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last year - and there was further evidence of ambivalent values in Republican thinking on 'earmarks' this weekend.

    The passage of the UIGEA at a late night session of Congress right before a recess for electioneering was made possible by the use of the 'earmark' or 'Christmas tree' political manouevre, whereby U.S. politicians can jumpstart stalled bills by adding them - even though totally unrelated - to more urgent bills in order to get same through Congress.

    In the case of the UIGEA the important Safe Ports Act was the vehicle chosen for the coat-tail ride.

    Players were hopeful that the questionable manner of the UIGEA's passage would be addressed by the President declining to sign the bill off, but President Bush apparently was happy with the process and its consequences and signed the Safe Ports Act into law - with its attachments - last October.

    In media appearances applauding the enactment of the Safe Ports Act, the President did not mention the attachment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which has subsequently caused massive inconvenience to US players and commercial damage to companies and investors around the world. It has also weakened the US position in its World Trade Organisation dispute with Antigua and Barbuda.

    With the earmark technique now a problem for the President, who wants the war funding bill passed but without the withdrawal timetable Democrats have attached to it, the view on earmarks seems to have undergone a dramatic change.

    Last week, online gambling's arch enemy Senator Jon Kyl attacked the earmark process (see previous InfoPowa report) and in his regular radio fireside chat with the nation President Bush was also critical of its effects on his bill requesting more war funding.

    According to the Congressional Record on the debate on the US Troop Readiness, Veteran's Health and Iraq Accountability Act 2007, Senator Kyl was critical of the earmark process, describing it as "larding it up" and saying: "....here we have a security supplemental, emergency funding to support the troops, and we decide to lard it up with all manner of items that are not emergencies, have nothing to do with supporting the troops, but because everybody knows this is a must-pass bill, they figure this is a real good opportunity for them to get things in the bill that might otherwise be very difficult to pass in the Congress."

    That sounds very much like the UIGEA add-on last year, which had equally little urgency or relevance to the Safe Ports Act.

    For the record, the sort of thing other politicians are trying to attach to the military bill are to do with appropriations for guided tours of the US Capitol; for mine safety research; sugar beet and sugar cane funding and a $100 million request for domestic security related to the Republican and Democratic Presidential nominating conventions....and a $74 million provision for peanut storage!

    Kyl made the point again at the close of his address to Congress when he said: "Do my colleagues hear what I am saying? Politicians have decided this is a good train to get on board because it has to move, we have to fund the troops. Since it is hard for us to get the Senate and the House to act on these items otherwise, we will just try to attach them to this bill."

    President Bush has the power of veto and was more direct in his promise to nix the bills if the add-ons and timelines stay in. Negotiations will be under pressure of time and budget over-runs as Congress tries to develop a combined version of the House and Senate Bills, both of which contain the timetable provisions with which the President is unhappy. After that, the negotiations start before the President needs to take the drastic step of an outright veto.
    2 people like this.

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